In Memoriam: James (Jim) Chalupnik

By Ulf Sandberg, Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute

It is with great sadness that we announce that James (aka Jim) Chalupnik passed away on January 14, 2020. Jim was one of the original Founders of INCE-USA.

James Dvorak Chalupnik was born in Bay City, Texas, in 1931 to Czechoslovakian immigrants. He is survived by his wife Janet, his children Kenneth Henry Chalupnik and Karen Ann Chalupnik, and grandson Tyler James Chalupnik.

Jim, as he is remembered by many: smiling and sharing his knowledge and humor. (Photo courtesy of Karen Chalupnik)

Jim grew up to attend Texas Tech, where he received his BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1953 while also serving as a naval officer during the Korean War. He received his MS in Engineering Mechanics from the University of Texas (UT) in 1960 and his PhD from UT in 1964.

While at UT, James met Janet Connor. They soon married, and in 1963 adopted a baby boy they named Kenneth Henry. They moved their small family to Pasadena, California, where James worked for the Lockheed Missile and Space Company Research Labs in Palo Alto. It was in this job that he became interested in what would be his primary professional focus: acoustics and noise control.

In 1964, James got a job at the University of Washington (UW) as assistant professor of mechanical engineering and the family moved to Seattle. He was promoted to associate professor in 1968 and professor in 1977. He and Janet adopted their second child during this time, a girl they named Karen Ann. The family spent many years in Seattle, and James served a rewarding and distinguished 31 years at UW. He was a favorite among professors and was appointed professor emeritus in the Department of Mechanical Engineering on his retirement in 1995.

Jim wrote at least three books about tire noise and the acoustic characteristics of roadway surfaces. Two are out of print and one is still available on Amazon (and in my bookshelf): Transportation Noises: Symposium on Acceptability Criteria.

In regard to Jim’s expertise in the acoustic characteristics of roadway surfaces, Dr. Fabienne Anfosso-Lédée recently shared that in 1987 she was doing a two-month internship with Jim’s team at UW. The work consisted of participating in a Close ProXimity (CPX) tire/road measurement campaign for the monitoring of acoustic properties of several road sections amid the beautiful scenery of Washington State, a pioneering study for a still relevant issue. As of January 1, 2021, Dr Anfosso-Lédée is the convener of the ISO WG that develops the CPX and a few other ISO standards, so it is fair to say that she got an excellent start in this career thanks to Jim.

I got to know Jim in the late 1980s when he was appointed US member in an ISO standardization group (ISO/TC 43/SC1/WG 33) that I convened. He had valuable experience in measuring noise emission from the tire-pavement interaction, partly based on using what we now call a CPX trailer that he had developed, and his advice was appreciated in the group. He took part in developing ISO 11819-1 (the SPB method) and in designing the first unofficial but widely used version of the CPX method, later to become ISO 11819-2. After Jim’s retirement we continued to stay in contact via frequent emails.

Jim was not only a skilled researcher in acoustics and vibration. Humor was also a substantial part of his life. Whenever we had some relaxing times in conjunction with our ISO meetings, Jim liked to joke and made us laugh really hard many times. After his retirement in 1995, and until one month before his passing, Jim and I continued to have fun conversing about various aspects of life. Jim was also a generous person, which I enjoyed when some of the ISO group members and I had the opportunity to visit him and Janet in their home in Seattle in 1994. I cherish many fond memories of our time together. It was during his time at UW that Jim co-founded INCE-USA in 1971. He was later appointed fellow of the institute, based on his service as founder and former director of INCE-USA, as well as for his contributions to education in acoustics and noise control engineering and research in roadway noise, modal analysis, shock and vibration, and stress analysis. Jim was also recognized for leadership in community noise control and abatement and volunteer service in noise control at all levels of government in the United States and internationally.

The last time the author met with Jim, at NOISE-CON 2011 in Portland. Jim was 80 then. (Photo taken with Ulf’s camera by an unknown colleague)

In retirement, Jim and Janet moved to Edmonds, Washington. They traveled often, and, while home, were very active in their community and in Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Church.

Finally, I want to add condolences from some present or previous ISO WG 33 members, Fabienne Anfosso-Lédée, Truls Berge, Jørgen Kragh, and Heinz Steven, who have asked me to mention that they loved working with Jim and sharing a beer here and there while having fun, mostly in Europe. We all knew and forever will remember Jim, not only as a professor who made an impact on the US and international noise engineering scene but also as a truly gentle and joyful person. Jim is deeply missed and our sincere thoughts go to Janet, Jim’s wife for so many years, and to their children.

Note: Part of this remembrance is copied from the obituary written by Jim’s daughter Karen Chalupnik, who reviewed and approved this article.